Wesley D. Block

The proposed Virtual Care standards do not deal with a few important issues: 1. It should be explicitly stated that virtual care can only be provided to patients who are physically within Alberta. Virtual care is not meant to be for Albertans travelling within Canada or for patients out of country as those patients should seek local medical care for their concerns. There should be some sort of standard protocol in place to verify patient location prior to the virtual visit being initiated. 2. Physicians offering Virtual Care while physically located outside of the province should be required to have an established relationship with a local clinic in the same city as the patient (at least for major urban centres where care is abundant). Many patients attempt to seek virtual care for issues that are inappropriate for Virtual Care. In these cases, there should be a pre-arranged or designated clinic or physician who can see the patient in person, who can physically examine the patient and who has access the visit notes from the Virtual Care physician. 3. Physicians practicing Virtual Care should be required to be on-site in Alberta for at least a few weeks per year in order to understand the local style of medical practice. This will ensure the highest standards of care and reduce the chance for over investigation and over referral. In other specialties (ex. Diagnostic Imaging), AHS has a requirement that physicians practising remotely should return to Alberta for approximately 2 weeks for every 8 weeks they work abroad. A similar requirement should be considered for primary care. 4. There is a double standard between other provinces (ex. Ontario) as other provinces require both the physician and patient to be located in their home province in order to bill for the visit (ex. OHIP). With an uneven playing field, it will be harder to attract physicians to Alberta as physicians may elect to live elsewhere and practice “virtually”. In am not sure this is in the best interest of Albertans, especially in urban centres where care is abundant. Are other provinces going to open up their patients to being seen virtually by docs physically located in Alberta (of course with the required provincial license)?

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